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III Many Different Churches

III Many Different Churches

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Published by Douglas Knight
Introduction to the worship of the Christian Church
Introduction to the worship of the Christian Church

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Published by: Douglas Knight on Feb 26, 2009
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10/17/2011

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3 Many different churches
In this chapter we are going to see how churches worship, and that the oneChurch is made up of many churches.
1 Gathering – Baptised into One Body
The Church is the love of God, opened to man. This gathering, processionand worship make us visible and available to us. In the Church all people arebeing called together and reconciled in this love. We are called out to be thisdistinct gathered people, and we are sent to our society to be witnesses of this reconciliation. The Church is distinct from the society around it for thesake of that society. We are brought into the Church not only for our ownsake, but the sake of those who are not yet members of the Church. We enter the Church in baptism, sometimes also referred as conversion. Since there isone baptism, Christians must regard all other Christians as members of theChurch. as the baptism service puts it: ‘
In joyful obedience to your Son webaptise into his fellowship those who come to him in faith
.’ Through all thegreat variety of church and discipleship, there is one Church, and the greatvariety of the churches is for the sake of the world.
1. We may enter the presence of the Lord
When we enter Church, the building and the worshipping community, we enter the presence of God. The Lord is enthroned before us. He is high and liftedup, his glory fills the temple. The whole company of heaven stand around him.He holds audience with all creation, and each Church service is our peek intothis audience.We recognise and acknowledge the presence of the Lord and of all hiscompany. Some bow or genuflect as they come into the building, some kneeland pray in silence until the service begins, while others greet their friends.
 All people that on earth do dwell,come ye before him and rejoice.O enter then his gates with praise,approach with joy his courts unto
(William Kethe)
Welcomed in to the courts of the king I’ve been ushered into your presence.Lord I stand on your merciful ground Yet with every step tread with reverence
(Matt Redman)
2. Baptism
The Lord calls, and so we come. In the place where there was no evidence of God for man, there is now the community that is gathered to be this evidence.The Church exists because God has called into existence. The Lord says
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‘Come’. So at once they got up at once, and left their nets and followed him(Matthew 4.19-20, Luke 5.29) So it must be with us. We may say ‘Lord whereare you going?’, but the answer is ‘Come and see’. To be a Christian is tofollow where Christ leads. We do not know everything about our way, but weare on the way with him and with all his people. He is at our head. We do nottrail along behind him, as though we have been left to make our own way, for Christ not only leads us but carries us.Baptism is the start of life with Christ. It is the event of our conversion to Christmade public. It is our passageway from one life to another, so that in baptismwe are dying to one form of life and being born to another. There are two sortsof life: there is the simple creaturely form of life, which always comes to anend, and there is the unbroken life of God, held out to us in Christ, whichnever comes to an end. In our creaturely life, death and life are two processesthat go on side by side: we are running down and wearing out, and we will doso until we run out of life altogether. Life is pitted with death; when the holes inthe fabric of life start to join up, our creaturely life is over. But in Christianbaptism one life is being replaced by the other. The new life, that is unbroken,is replacing the old life that is stained and pitted with death, so that though wewear out, we are always renewed and regenerated. As the baptism serviceputs it: ‘
We thank you, Father, for the water of baptism. In it we are buried withChrist in his death. By it we share in his resurrection.
2. The Church on the way
Through water you led the children of Israel from slavery in Egypt to freedomin the Promised Land.
Our immersion in the water of baptism is our dying to death and rising toeternal life. We say: ‘
To follow Christ mean dying to sin and rising to new lifewith him
.’ We go down into that water, and travel through it until we emergefrom it on the other side. Our course is set for this long transition from lifemarked by death to that unbroken life. The whole Christian life is this baptism.We are going through this water with Christ.We are making a crossing and will go through a storm. But we are going tomake this crossing together with the whole convoy lead by Christ. With him,the rage of the sea will not overcome us. In his ark we travel ‘in sure andcertain hope of the resurrection.’ As one canticle from Isaiah puts it:The Lord makes a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters, ‘I will make away in the wilderness and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosenpeople.’The whole Christian Church is on the way. We travel together through theworld, regarding it as our training and preparation. Every Sunday we stop andwe celebrate publicly this anticipation of the Promised Land. Perhaps it looksas though we go to Church, sit still together for an hour or two and then rushoff again to our separate lives. But this is not how it is. In the service, we areon the move, visibly and publicly travelling together through the world. We aretravelling behind Christ: he leads, we follow. We are on the move through our city and society, passing through every community, members of it yet distinctfrom it. Christ leads his people through the world, as though he were showing
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us off to it:
Christ always leads us in triumphal procession
(2 Corinthians2.14). An event has started, it is ongoing and points to what we cannot yetsee. So we sing:
Lift High the Cross the love of Christ proclaimCome, let us follow where our captain trod Our king victorious Christ the Son of God 
(499)We are being formed and transformed, so we cannot yet claim to be human inthe full sense, but we and when we have been, we will be human at last. Weare changed by our encounter with other Christians and our shaping in theChurch, transformed, individually, and corporately, as we are gathered,reconciled with one another and brought into one body. Though the cavalcadepauses, it does not stop. We are in procession because we are not yet whatwe will be. In this way Christian hope is built in.We are on the move right through this service. Perhaps this would be easier to visualise if we worshipped standing up, and so if we took chairs or pews outof Church. At one point in the service, as we go up to the altar to receive theeucharist the whole congregation is standing. This is how to see the serviceas a whole. It is the event in which line of God's people stretches from our places of work and our homes, all the way to Church and in church up to thealtar. Christians are the people raised and made to stand upright by theresurrection.
3. The Church goes from church to church
Each church gathers with other churches. We do not remain sitting in our separate churches but go out together to find other Christians in other congregations. We worship with them and ask them to share with us whatever insight their experience has given them, and we offer them whatever encouragement we can. The promise that
Where two or three are gathered together, there am I in the midst of them
(Matthew) refers to congregations asmuch as it does to individual Christians. No individual group or congregationof Christians is sufficient. It must seek its own, and it must seek thoseChristians that it sees as unlike itself, and for this reason we are on the move.The Church gathers out on the street. It does so at particular seasons likeChristmas and Easter when every part of the Church, evangelical andcatholic, gathers and processes through the streets. In the season of Adventwe all go carol-singing to tell the city that Christmas is the advent of God toman.The Church is on the street at Easter. In my part of the city, East London,Catholic and Anglo-Catholic processions on Palm Sunday, Good Friday andCorpus Christi processions have always been a big part of church life. Youcan see churches processing along our streets on Palm Sunday, when wecelebrate the Lord’s entry into Jerusalem, and on Good Friday to celebratethe passion. We gather and walk again in the West End at Pentecost. AtCorpus Christi, Catholic Churches take to the streets again. All Saints ChurchSt Margaret Street meets with other churches and processes in a circuitaround Oxford Street.
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